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This document talks about how to parse an HTTP response body in the cleanest way possible.

Getting a response

To get a response, you can either use Rex::Proto::Http::Client, or the HttpClient mixin to make an HTTP request. If you are writing a module, you should use the mixin.

The following is an example of using the #send_request_cgi method from HttpClient:

res = send_request_cgi({'uri'=>'/index.php'})

The return value for res is a Rex::Proto::Http::Response object, but it’s also possible you get a NilClass due to a connection/response timeout.

Getting the response body

With a Rex::Proto::Http::Response object, here’s how you can retrieve the HTTP body:

data = res.body

If you want to get the raw HTTP response (including the response message/code, headers, body, etc), then you can simply do:

raw_res = res.to_s

However, in this documentation we are only focusing on res.body.

Choosing the right parser


If the format you need to parse isn’t on the list, then fall back to res.body.

Parsing HTML with Nokogiri

When you have a Rex::Proto::Http::Response with HTML in it, the method to call is:

html = res.get_html_document

This will give you a Nokogiri::HTML::Document, which allows you use the Nokogiri API.

There are two common methods in Nokogiri to find elements: #at and #search. The main difference is that the #at method will only return the first result, while the #search will return all found results (in an array).

Consider the following example as your HTML response:

	<title>Hello, World!</title>
	<div class="greetings">
		<div id="english">Hello</div>
		<div id="spanish">Hola</div>
		<div id="french">Bonjour</div>

Basic usage of #at

If the #at method is used to find a DIV element:

html = res.get_html_document
greeting ='div')

Then the greeting variable should be a Nokogiri::XML::Element object that gives us this block of HTML (again, because the #at method only returns the first result):

<div class="greetings">
<div id="english">Hello</div>
<div id="spanish">Hola</div>
<div id="french">Bonjour</div>

Grabbing an element from a specific element tree

html = res.get_html_document
greeting ='div//div')

Then the greeting variable should give us this block of HTML:

<div id="english">Hello</div>

Grabbing an element with a specific attribute

Let’s say I don’t want the English Hello, I want the Spanish one. Then we can do:

html = res.get_html_document
greeting ='div[@id="spanish"]')

Grabbing an element with a specific text

Let’s say I only know there’s a DIV element that says “Bonjour”, and I want to grab it, then I can do:

html = res.get_html_document
greeting ='//div[contains(text(), "Bonjour")]')

Or let’s say I don’t know what element the word “Bonjour” is in, then I can be a little vague about this:

html = res.get_html_document
greeting ='[text()*="Bonjour"]')

Basic usage of #search

The #search method returns an array of elements. Let’s say we want to find all the DIV elements, then here’s how:

html = res.get_html_document
divs ='div')

Accessing text

When you have an element, you can always call the #text method to grab the text. For example:

html = res.get_html_document
greeting ='[text()*="Bonjour"]')

The #text method can also be used as a trick to strip all the HTML tags:

html = res.get_html_document

The above will print:

"\n\nHello, World!\n\n\n\nHello\nHola\nBonjour\n\n\n" 

If you actually want to keep the HTML tags, then instead of calling #text, call #inner_html.

Accessing attributes

With an element, simply call #attributes.

Walking a DOM tree

Use the #next method to move on to the next element.

Use the #previous method to roll back to the previous element.

Use the #parent method to find the parent element.

Use the #children method to get all the child elements.

Use the #traverse method for complex parsing.

Parsing XML

To get the XML body from Rex::Proto::Http::Response, do:

xml = res.get_xml_document

The rest should be pretty similar to parsing HTML.

Parsing JSON

To get the JSON body from Rex::Proto::Http::Response, do:

json = res.get_json_document